This blog post from the NYT Magazine’s culture editor Adam Sternbergh rounds up some some well known lit lovers’ suggestions for some of those of you looking for some “red hot summer trash” to add to your reading list. Maud Newton and our own Garth Risk Hallberg both recommended Lonesome Dove, so that’s going on my reading list for sure.
"What women do in the books mentioned here doesn’t consist of survival so much as sabotage. They throw bricks and rocks and flaming bottles into the chinks of the masculine world machine, then pick up a gun and fire into the turning gears. If rape and other sexual violence, religious servitude, and the politically determined inaccessibility of contraception can be seen as acts of war, stories like these may not just be a means of escapism. In the mind’s eye, they might be weapons, to be picked up, opened, and deployed." At the Boston Review, Elizabeth Hand looks at women who fight back in fiction, from Gone Girl to Medea.
"I began to wonder: what would a manifesto for bad poetry look like? Would it differ either superficially or deeply from the art’s graver manifestos? It really wouldn’t have to. It would merely have to persuade, and persuasion sounds very much the same whether it is honest or dishonest. If it was any good it would hold great attractiveness as a snappy piece of writing, but, if followed, it would be certain to produce bad poetry. Some harmless sophistry. In this it would be more effective than any positive manifesto, because, if guided well, no-one who sets out to write a bad poem is going to accidentally write an excellent one." Erik Kennedy lays out a manifesto for bad poetry, titled "Precepts for Perfection in Poetry," for The Rumpus. For a counterpoint, pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone's look at very good and very sad poetry, "The Saddest Poem Ever Written."
"Maurice Sendak drew his partner Eugene after he died, as he had drawn his family members when they were dying. The moment is one he was compelled to capture, pin down, understand, see. Where many— maybe most—people look away, he wanted to render. He was very wrapped up in the goodbye, the flight, the loss; it was almost Victorian, to be so deeply entranced with the moment of death, the instinct to preserve or document it. It’s also the artist’s impulse: to turn something terrible into art, to take something you are terrified of and heartbroken by and make it into something else. For the time it takes to draw what is in front of you, you are not helpless or a bystander or bereft: You are doing your job." On Maurice Sendak and the art of death.
"[Don] DeLillo’s characters long to penetrate the enigmas and intrigues of his conjured worlds; DeLillo’s readers devour his sentences, images and narratives for what amounts to something similar: for all that DeLillo — the seeker, the prophet, the mystic, the guide — sees." Don DeLillo has a new book, Zero K, out tomorrow. Go check out this review from The New York Times, and then go take a look at this essay from The Millions's own Nick Ripatrazone on DeLillo and American athletics.
B|ta'arof Magazine recently launched its inaugural issue. The publication arrives “in response to the absence of a printed space, in English, for social comment, reflection and shared experience among the Iranian community.” You can preview the first issue and read their calls for submissions on their website, and I also encourage you to read up on the magazine’s Persian namesake.